Lulu Wong Taylor
Posted - April 12, 2016
Lulu Wong Taylor was born in Sarawak, Borneo, one of the twelve children of a planter. Her early years were lived under the shadow of World War 2. Just eight years old she witnessed her father being taken away by Japanese soldiers, never to return. Educated at a mission school, she became a teacher of art and, a failed marriage behind her, showed her paintings in exhibitions sponsored by the British Council.
She met George Taylor in Brunei, where he was teaching. They married in London in 1972, then lived in Basingstoke, where Lulu became a born-again Christian, before moving back to Borneo in 1984. Here, following a course at a Singapore bible college, Lulu spent time encouraging the native Christians in the interior.
Returning to England they settled in Jericho in 1991. Lulu continued to work as an artist, still painting predominantly exotic subjects. She started to sell prints and greetings cards of her work and exhibited at the Edinburgh Festival. She showed her work in Artweeks for over twenty years, not only in colleges, galleries and shops but also at her house in Great Clarendon Street. In its small front garden, bamboo, jasmine, yucca and an olive tree grow; a mural depicts a tropical island complete with palm trees and jumping dolphins. Outside, giant sharks-fin gourds climbed the trees in autumn, Lulu having reclaimed land for a green oasis at the end of the street, where children’s windmills still turn.
At her stall in the Jericho Street Fair she sold everything from bric-a-brac, to art, to noodles. An active member of the Oxford Community Church, in Jericho from 2009 she also supported Derrick Morlan, the new pastor of the Baptist Chapel in Albert Street, through prayer and gifts. Her hot chocolate and soup runs – on her bicycle - to the homeless made her a familiar figure in the streets of Oxford. She was passionate, outspoken, uncompromising and generous. Many of the children in Jericho knew her by name. One resident wrote: ‘Lulu was filled with enthusiasm and generosity to those less fortunate than her. From the homeless in Oxford to the likes of me, she supplied all with her wonderful cooking.’
Latterly she suffered from Multiple System Atrophy (MSA), a rare and debilitating neurological condition which confined her to a wheelchair. But this didn’t quench her spirit. ‘I can’t think of her without smiling and seeing that mischievous twinkle in her eye. It’s rare in my line of work to have someone with a terminal diagnosis who was such fun to work with,’ commented her occupational therapist. She died peacefully in her sleep.
The celebration of her life at the King’s Centre, Osney Mead was attended by around two hundred people. She leaves her husband, two children and six grandchildren. In the words of a neighbour “Jericho has lost one of its most wonderful characters”.